YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE – DON’T DRIVE DROWSY
A Florida family turns their tragedy into a campaign to save lives.
Driver fatigue leads to 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 crashes each year in the United States. While those numbers may seem like boring statistics, it is more than that to Ronshay Dugans’ family. It is a sad reality.
In 2008, a driver fell asleep at the wheel of a cement truck in Tallahassee and slammed into the bus carrying 8-year-old Ronshay. While Ronshay’s death is a tragedy, her family wants to share it so that other families do not have to suffer a loss like the one they have. They worked with State Rep. Alan Williams to champion new legislation to create the Ronshay Dugans Act. The Act designates the first week of September as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in Florida.
This special week brings attention to the public safety issue at a critical time when millions of motorists are planning long weekend road trips for the Labor Day holiday. To remind motorists of their responsibility as a driver to be alert and sober behind the wheel, Florida’s departments of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and of Transportation have teamed up with Representative Williams and Ronshay’s family to launch a public awareness and education campaign. The campaign theme, You Snooze, You Lose – Don’t Drive Drowsy, uses an old adage in its literal interpretation to remind drivers of the potential consequences that falling asleep at the wheel can have.
Do you know whose eyelids are most at-risk of dropping anchor while at the wheel? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers in the following three groups pose the highest risk of drowsy driving:
- Young people (ages 16 to 29), especially males.
- Shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by working at night or working long or irregular hours.
- People with untreated sleep apnea syndrome and narcolepsy.
Regardless of a driver’s vocation, age, sex, health condition or other characteristics, any driver can become overconfident and fall victim to driving while drowsy – regardless of the time of day. Measures that drivers can take to arm themselves against the Sandman are:
- Catch some ZZZZ’s before you get behind the wheel. A good night’s sleep goes a long way to prevent drowsy driving.
- Bring a buddy. By having another driver on board, you have someone to share the driving responsibilities and help keep one another alert.
- Take a break. Stopping to get out and stretch your legs every few hours or even to catch a quick nap will help you recharge your battery.
- Drive sober. Alcohol and driving never mix. Also, heed prescription medication labels and any warnings that say they may make you drowsy.
Fatigue and drowsiness can impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, which not only puts you and your passengers at risk, but also it places everyone else on the road with you at-risk. For more information about drowsy driving and the campaign, visit www.dot.state.fl.us/safety and remember – You Snooze, You Lose – Don’t Drive Drowsy.